Jim, the shortest Length you can do on any cable in you system will result better detail, image, bass control is the most effective. atlease you can buy much better (shorter) cables but at the same budget of your long run! Regards, Rute.
I'd even go so far as to advise people, where feasible, to think of replacing a conventional stereo power amp with a pair of monoblocks. I got the benefits Rute specified in a big way when I changed from 7' speaker cables to 18" ones. But even dropping one third of the length of a 15' pair will be beneficial, and let further upgrading show its benefits.
I ask this same question to various cable manufacturers, many times in the last 10 years. The general rule seems to be that if you cannot cut the length to half of the original, the change is not worthwhile. Same goes with increase, doubling the length can result in loss of performance, adding slightly is usually not audible. Of course there are situations where the length is excessive (30 feet?) where you damage the signal to the extent that the rules are no longer accurate. The precise answer to your question would be that shortening it to the 8 foot length would be better, and any less radical change would probably not be worth the effort. By the way, this formula has proven to be accurate in my system over the years.
There is one cable manufacturer (Mapleshade) that does not recommnd using their cable in less than 8' lengths as it will degrade the sound. Also using it in it's standard form in lengths exceeding 12' will have the same affect. I have not tried their cable only because I use 17' runs with my current setup. I may end up placing my equipment in a hall closet which is behind the back wall of the speakers and then run my lines through the wall in order to shorten the speaker cable lengths. This would involve running outlets into the closet or using high quality extension cords, it would also void the use of my remote control. This is the only solution that I can come up without screwing up our living room layout. In brief, I think that shortening the cable runs is something that everyone should try.
I ask this question to several cable manufacturers, many times in past 10 days, and told any length beyond 7.5 cm will degrade sound. Am now listening to one speaker at a time. Maybe i should purchase headfones?
The effects of cable length are more apparent on some cables than others. This has to do with their geometry and dielectric materials more than anything. Cables that are of a high inductance design ( zip cord ) will show increased high frequency roll off as you get longer. Most of the the wide-bandwidth cables using braided, twisted, etc... geometries will not be greatly affected other than possible increases of capacitance. This can be corrected by using a zobel network if it starts to get out of hand. Common sense would dictate that the shorter the cable, the less loss and signal degradation, but that might not always be the case. Since the amplifier is "loading" into the total impedance being presented to it, it is possible that specific lengths of cables in combination with your speakers MIGHT perform audibly different. In other words, just like anything else, a specific cable length and speaker / amp combo could produce a "sweet spot" in terms of lengths that sound best. Unless you have a LOT of cables and various lengths of each, you might not ever notice this or be able to experiment with it. I have and have found that shorter speaker cables are NOT necessarily better than longer cables. I had recently gone from one stereo amp into monoblocks perched right behind the speakers on amp stands. I did not have any shorter cables, so i used the original 8' pair that i was using with the stereo amp until my 4' "shorties" showed up. The cables were from the same manufacturer and the 4 footers were actually the next model up the line. Keep in mind that the binding posts on these speakers is about 32 inches up the back of them, so that eats up a reasonable amount of cable right off the bat. I ran the 4 footers for quite a while and was not impressed with the performance, so I put the 8' cables back into the system. Everything was back to normal again. I also have a 15' run of these and noticed no major sonic differences between the 8' run and the 15's. In other words, each system is different and you really have to try it and see. Sean
Here's to more money down the drain in search of the magical length. I'm game. Too bad that I just sold 36' of extra Kimber Kable, I could have had a field day.
I reckon the gains from shorter lengths are best described in terms of greater immediacy and better extension both top and bottom. Some amps and cables will be hugely affected, others not so much - the former happens with high inductance cables as suggested above, but even with high-end cables that have high capacitance, but this still differs with power amp. If you list your cable and amp Jim, it might be possible to be more accurate.
Thanks for all of the advice, guys. Much to ponder and play with. And, I suspect more money going out to see if there's any difference in my system.
Redkiwi, I'm running 15 foot Audioquest Midnight from a Mesa Baron to CLS's. I'm also wondering about cable going to my soon to be hooked up Kinergertics SW800 subs -- amp is yet to be determined (another thread to come). The AQ is working very well with my speakers. I was planning on trying the Alpha Core Goertz MI2 or MI3 (depending on length) as I have heard good reports on these cables with esl's -- not unhappy -- quite the opposite, in fact -- but just want to try something else to determine changes.
Thanks for the advice.
As has been discussed in many threads, if you have audio rack on side wall use long ICs to amp between speakers, and short speaker cables, cheaper total cost and better sound. I would not go shorter than 6ft on speaker cables for the simple reason that they loose resale value if you want to upgrade. I personally would stick with 6-8ft speaker cables and not worry about the 2-4% of sound I am missing by not using 3ft speaker cables.
I had looked into increasing the length of my IC's (in order to decrease my speaker cable runs) and was told that it would not be a good idea by two different manufacturers. The difference though between mine and Sam's setup is that I would have been running long IC's that carry the digital/analog signal prior to it reaching the preamp section. I could have either increased my digital cable from transport to DAC of the analog IC's from DAC to amp. I have two integrated amps and do not have seperate pre/power amps. Does this seem right, or is anyone using long IC's such as these in combination with shorter speaker cables with good results? By long IC's runs I am talking 15' - 20'. Both of the people that I contacted lost a sale by giving me this advice and I know that they were sincere.
My experience on the Goertz cables is to stick with the MI-2's instead of the MI-3's. Those were the exact cables that i referenced in my above post. Keep in mind that you would be adding even more capacitance to an already capacitive load. Either way, i'm sure that a zobel network would help out your installation. This would help to stabilize your amp feeding the e-stat's as a general rule. It would be most effective on systems using e-stat's and widebandwidth amps. I would also check out Nelson Pass' rant on cables at www.passlabs.com under "articles". He did some research and measurements on cables quite a while ago. Using his Dayton Wright ESL's and the specific amps that he was testing, he found that this specific installation worked best with very light gauge zip cord type wires. Their natural resistance and inductance acted as a slight buffer to the e-stat's capacitive nature and helped to balance out the load that the amplifier saw. Like i said before, every installation is different and will require experimentation. Sean
Jim, I don't think you will get much benefit from shortening the Midnights by a third. They are not tough to drive and certainly not by the Mesa. The Goertz could be a problem over this length given its capacitiance, which makes it a harder call, but I have a feeling the Mesa is up to the task. Dekay, long ICs are usually only recommended between pre and power because preamps are usually designed to do just this. Few DACs are designed to be up to the task, but there are some exceptions. Long digital ICs are OK only if using ST-type cables - which are incredibly cheap and so not a bad idea.
Thanks for the feedback, all. I've picked up a lot of information that I either wasn't aware of or hadn't thought about. At the end of the day I guess it still comes down to trying different cables. At least I have more to go on now. Thanks again.
Jim; thanks for the thread, I've got a similar situation to yours, ie 14 ft. Syn. Res. cables. But with rearranging I think I can get to 6-7 Ft, but I'll have to go to 4-5M ICs. Sam has a good point re: resale value. Thanks. Craig.
When I changed my 8' Harmonic Technology Pro-9 plus bi-wires to 12' there was not a noticeable difference. Perhaps a little less bass focus, but then I re-dialed my sub in, and there was no longer any difference whatsoever.